‘The Godfather of Comedy’ Paul Mooney Dies at Age 79

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Comedian and actor Paul Mooney died after suffering a heart attack in his Oakland, California home. The 79-year-old passed away on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. According to Roland Martin’s tweet, the “comedic legend(‘s)… cousin, Rudy Ealy” called him “from Paul’s phone and said he passed away two hours ago after suffering a heart attack.”

Martin further stated that he “would pay tribute to him on Roland Martin Unfiltered” on his Wednesday evening show. A representative for the late comedian shared a message on Twitter:

Mooney World.. The Godfather of Comedy – ONE MOON MANY STARS!

The tweet further said, “To all in love with this great man.. many thanks.”

The comedian was born with the name Paul Gladney on Aug. 4, 1942, in Shreveport, Louisiana. The name Mooney came from a nickname his grandmother gave him.

He began his career writing for comedian Richard Pryor. They worked together on numerous projects throughout Pryor’s life.

In the 1978 historical drama “The Buddy Holly Story” Mooney portrayed the soul singer Sam Cooke. The following year the movie won an Oscar for Best Adaption Score.

MooneyThe comedian, actor, writer,  was known for the 1985 movie starring Pryor — “Brewster’s Millions.” In this movie, Mooney was the production consultant.

He was also part of the crew in 1984’s “Pryor’s Place” and 2016’s “Meet the Blacks.” The beloved comedian was the mastermind behind “In Living Color’s” character Homey the Clown. This character was played by Damon Wayans. His catchphrase was “Homey don’t play dat.”

On Jan. 19, 1973, the comedic actor married Yvonne Mooney. They have three children together — twins Dwayne and Daryl and Shane. The couple divorced at some point, although the exact date is unclear. According to IMDb, Mooney had a fourth son — Symeon — who was murdered in 2001.

The stand-up comedian had a deep, rich voice. His comedic acts focused mainly on social and racial issues. He gave many comedians their first break into show business, including Sandra Bernhard and Argus Hamilton.

He wrote comedy material for Redd Foxx. For many years he was Berhard’s mentor; they remained close friends throughout the years.

IMDb says that one of his personal quotes is:

I always drop in some history. It’s knowledge. There’s always a message in my comedy and you may not get it that night – it’s like time bombs. It’ll get you a week later. You’ll understand.

Many of his friends, fans, and former coworkers took to social media to pay their respects to the comedian and his family.

Viola Davis tweeted that he was “both funny and poignant.” She also wrote that she was “So happy to have witnessed [his] genius live.” Davis asked Mooney to “Pour down some laughter here. We need it.”

Comedian Bill Burr tweeted, “R.I.P. to the absolute master! – Paul Mooney. I learned so much from you.”

The late comedian is survived by his sons, additional family, and close friends. May he rest in peace.

Written by Sheena Robertson


IMDb: Paul Mooney

New York Daily News: Comedian and actor Paul Mooney dead at 79 after suffering heart attack; by Peter Sblendorio


Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Timothy M. Moore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


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